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The Decline Of Classical Music


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Originally posted by michael w

 

 

As for repertoire; crossover is a must for any new classical artist as it appears to be the only "classical" music that is still selling.

 

 

Howdy,

 

I've never been much of a classical fan so I have no huge insights into it's decline. As far as I can see it has to do with a lack of perceived relevance for the buying public and perhaps the limited attention spans of a lot of the same people. What do those that really care about the music feel are the reasons behind it's fall from grace?

 

Cheers,

 

Craig.

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My take on the decline in "classical" music is that there are many, many causes.

 

The perceived lack of relevance and (particularly) decreasing attention spans you mentioned are two reasons.

 

I suspect that many people don't understand the music either, and little is being done to help that understanding. Good classical (and jazz, for that matter) music takes more work to understand and therefore enjoy than a hook-laden pop song blasted out over the radio every hour. A bit more work, yes, but a lot of long-term involvement and enjoyment in the music.

 

Sales of classical recorded music has dclined greatly. Part of the reasons are discussed above, but there is another factor.

 

After the iintroduction of CD, classical sales went through a boom time as people replaced their LPs and discovered lots of new music. Now, many classical music enthusiasts have their 5 versions sof Beethoven symphonies, and there is little reason to buy more.

 

Plus, there is so many older recordings available at low prices that it's hard to justify buying newer recordings. I have purchased sets of superbly recorded and argubly the best performances of symphonies and chamber music of the likes of beethoven, Shostakovich and Mozart that I'm unlikely to buy any new recordings of these works.

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Don't forget the prima donna atitude of many soloists, conductors, even orchestras.

 

Some of these characters are just as demanding as the pop/rock artists we read about.

 

Add in exhorbitant spending by record companies on product that no one wants to buy and you can guess the rest.

 

Might as well take a stab at classical listeners too :P

Many have taken an elitist stance when it comes to classical which is seen as snobbery by the masses.

 

BTW a couple of weeks ago I found a 2002 DG German pressed recording of some Beethoven violin concertos by Anne-Sophie Mutter, Kurt Masur, NY Philiharmonic selling for the princely sum of $6.99 !

 

 

cheerio

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What can be done to make classical more relevant or, and this opens me up to flames, has it just run out of steam? I mean how long can you keep rehashing stuff that's been around for hundreds of years? Would it be such a loss if it faded into antiquity. (Playing devils advecate here!)

 

Cheers,

 

Craig.

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This is one of the reasons I love having a turntable: I went down to a church sale the other weekend - heaps of classical. I don't know a thing about most of the records but the ones where I think "hmmm, heard of that composer, like the instruments, wonder what it's like" only set me back $1 a pop. Most of the pressings are really good - heaps of London DECCA and WRC (don't laugh, I've found the quality of these to be fantastic).

 

:D

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Don't forget the recent item on TV3 news about the decline of music as a subject in NZ Schools! It's gradually being pushed out, become a "if there's time" subject. This type of education is important in giving a proportion of the population a good understanding of music (incl. Classical). I think the numbers were something like 85% of kids get _some_ music at primary school, down to 16% at High School (juniors), down to about 6% or something for school certificate/UE (High School Seniors)...

 

M.

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  • 17 years later...
On 16/09/2003 at 11:44 AM, craig f said:

What can be done to make classical more relevant or, and this opens me up to flames, has it just run out of steam? I mean how long can you keep rehashing stuff that's been around for hundreds of years? Would it be such a loss if it faded into antiquity. (Playing devils advecate here!)

 

Cheers,

 

Craig.

 

If it fades into antiquity, then at some time in the future it will be 'rediscovered' by a new generation, and have a new renaissance.

 

That sort of thing has happened to various forms of traditional music. Irish traditional music for example was looked down upon and dismissed as "bogman's music" at one time, but people kept on playing it. These days it has regained its popularity, with a lot of young musicians 'discovering' the music. The secret to keeping the music alive is to respect the tradition, but at the same time add something to it.

 

That may not be a great analogy, but I think it does have some relevance. What most people now think of as 'classical' music was once new and fresh, and I think all forms of music need some form of innovation and renewal to stay alive.

 

Perhaps the popular image of this music has suffered somewhat from the attitudes of the past, where the emphasis seems to have been on playing the music 'exactly as so', rather than allowing for innovation, but I think this music is far from dead, and will be with us for a very long time.

 

These are just my thoughts, and I am no expert on classical music, so please feel free to disagree. (And perhaps the term 'classical' music is a misnomer in the way most people think of it. We are probably talking about a wide range of different musical styles here.)

 

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28 minutes ago, emesbee said:

 

If it fades into antiquity, then at some time in the future it will be 'rediscovered' by a new generation, and have a new renaissance.

 

Looks like it’s happened. All is not lost. A new generation has rediscovered this thread. 

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I am thinking a new “most accessible classical masterpieces” thread would be good to reintroduce some of the classics to next generation. Many of these tunes may be in peoples subconscious as years in movies, TV ads etc. and from an audio quality perspective the 60s and 70s Decca, DG and Phillips recordings are hard to beat. Let me start with three that come to mind.

Tchaikovsky Nutcracker. Piano concerto #1

Mozart Eine Klein Nachtmuzic, Rondo Alla Turks

Beethoven Symphony 5, Fur Elise, Moonlight Sonata

Chopin Waltzes

Debussy Claire De Lune

listz Liebestramme no3

Handel Harmonious Blacksmith   

 

 

Edited by Mr Thorens
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Note sure things are that bad:

Call Off the Requiem: The Classical Music Business Is Not Dead Just Yet

What's killing classical music? has various sources writing off classical music over the centuries. For example, in 1530 it was supposed to be lascivious musicians (interesting way to represent them!)  :)   In 1930s, the gramophone was meant to be end of classical music.  Click on link to see the details.

image.png.bd25f57f5c5e158258e739dc88e853e7.png

Source: properdiscord.com

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9 minutes ago, sir sanders zingmore said:

I'm just confused as to how @craig f managed to post in this thread 4 years before he joined?

 

987740987_ScreenShot2020-11-28at5_47_00pm.png.5c663076c8451426d3cad823f397ae8a.png

Some very dodgy business afoot. we need a proper investigation.

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13 minutes ago, buddyev said:

Some very dodgy business afoot. we need a proper investigation.

 

Maybe when they get to be annointed, each mod gets given a (time-travel) wand?  :)

 

Andy

 

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Just sample it into hip hop and rap, it will make a comeback in no time.

 

 

The next time you hear a piece by Liszt you'll hear someone say, "Hey, like that song is like by MC Wooky."

Edited by t_mike
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  • 4 weeks later...

There are many reasons why classical music has declined in my opinion, including

  • The declining attention spans of young people, who expect immediate gratification. 
  • The perception that it's old people's music that doesn't have much relevance to young people.
  • The declining emphasis on music education.  Young people are not exposed to classical music, and don't understand the instruments and the construction.
  • There is the perception that classical music is basically an orchestra supporting actors in a film.  And sometimes a catchy bit of music in a TV advertisement. 
  • Most people think that classical music is Mozart of Beethoven, maybe some Tchaikovsky, opera and piano and violin music.  There is no understanding of the diversity of early classical music, and the diversity of 20th-century classical music. 

 

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 23/12/2020 at 4:08 PM, audiofeline said:

There are many reasons why classical music has declined in my opinion, including

  • The declining attention spans of young people, who expect immediate gratification. 
  • The perception that it's old people's music that doesn't have much relevance to young people.
  • The declining emphasis on music education.  Young people are not exposed to classical music, and don't understand the instruments and the construction.
  • There is the perception that classical music is basically an orchestra supporting actors in a film.  And sometimes a catchy bit of music in a TV advertisement. 
  • Most people think that classical music is Mozart of Beethoven, maybe some Tchaikovsky, opera and piano and violin music.  There is no understanding of the diversity of early classical music, and the diversity of 20th-century classical music. 

 

Some interesting points all of which I would agree to some degree.

I'm first and foremost of Rock/pop music lover, but my range of music taste is much wider than the rock/pop genres.

I like a lot of the prog rock music from the 60's and 70's having grown up with it. But I also like folk, country, some punk & new wave to name just a few. I also like good orchestral music, and note I said orchestral.

So what do I mean when I say orchestral? Put simply music produced by a full or boutique orchestra.

 

I recently had this conversation with my wife two or three days ago after I had made a comment about a lot of the "Classical" music that she enjoys finds me wanting to throw the CD out of the window. A good deal of this music I dislike intensely, I find it dry, repetitive, harmonically harsh, no matter whose interpretation I'm listening to. Russian composers really seem to clash with my ear. Now I can say the same about a lot of more modern 20th century music as well, a lot of it is garish, harsh and poorly produced and performed, so I'm not biased in this regard to classical music.

 

Now heres the point. My wife is a classically trained Royal Academy concert pianist who spent many years training and practising to play the piano concertos etc written by the "Masters", Beethoven, Mozart and the like as well as being a huge opera buff. At present Andre Bocelli features a lot on her YouTube feed, and I do like a lot of his performances. It would help if I could speak Italian or Latin. However as I explained  to her, for me a least, I have little love for classical music per se I do enjoy well crafted orchestral music and theres a huge difference between orchestral & classical.

In talking modern orchestral.

For example Moody Blues 1967 album "Nights in White Satin" uses  music  written for the album and performed by the London Festival Orchestra. I doubt the album would have sounded anywhere near as good if the orchestration hadn't been included. It should be noted that just like a classical record, "Nights" needs to be listened to in its entirety for the listener to really get the full impact of the musical story.

While the classical style, as in music played in the style of Mozart, Beethoven ( the old master composers ) etc, has declined in popularity, I doubt it will ever disappear. Today we have a huge variety of music and instrumentation available to us the the classical composer and musicians could not possibly  have dreamed of. In the past couple of days my wife and I have been looking at replacing her ageing piano with a modern electric grand or similar and the notion that she can use one instrument to compose music even at the age of 64 has got her positively salivating.

So while there has been a decline in the popularity of classical music, I dont see it ever going away. Its a bit like vinyl records, popular for a long time, then a decline as other technologies came along, and now we see a renaissance in its popularity as other generations discover this medium. The music will do the same as time passes.

Just my 2 cents worth.

 

 

 

 

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 2 months later...
On 23/12/2020 at 2:08 PM, audiofeline said:

There are many reasons why classical music has declined in my opinion, including

  • The declining attention spans of young people, who expect immediate gratification. 
  • The perception that it's old people's music that doesn't have much relevance to young people.
  • The declining emphasis on music education.  Young people are not exposed to classical music, and don't understand the instruments and the construction.
  • There is the perception that classical music is basically an orchestra supporting actors in a film.  And sometimes a catchy bit of music in a TV advertisement. 
  • Most people think that classical music is Mozart of Beethoven, maybe some Tchaikovsky, opera and piano and violin music.  There is no understanding of the diversity of early classical music, and the diversity of 20th-century classical music. 

 

I think this is more so in Australia than Europe.  I often go to concerts in both continents and I think unlike Europeans, Australians just don't see it as part of their cultural heritage.  At live performances in Germany for example, there is a cross section of age groups and many families go together.  In Melbourne, the crowd is largely homogeneous consisting of older people.  As a genre, it's really the last 1000 years of music and without understanding some of the history and historiography, it's not particularly accessible.  For example, Bach became mindblowing to me mainly after I understood the well-tempered scale and what a fugue actually is.  My Dad taught me the basics and I am currently passing this exposure down to my kids, but it's unlikely they would delve into it themselves! 

It should be part of our education in terms of both the arts and history.   

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I think you make an excellent comparison with Europe.  Over there, it's their music, their composers, their heritage. 

What Australian composers can the general public name?  Not many.  Who knows of Percy Grainger, John Humble, Felix Werder? 

Maybe people will mention John Williams, because he composed the StarWars soundtrack.  Except that he wasn't an Australian - the StarWars composer is American, and is often mistaken here for the Australian classical guitarist who was in the pop/classical band Sky

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  • 4 weeks later...

Australian composer Ross Edwards (born 1943) has written a lot of enjoyable orchestral music that comes under the rather too broad "classical" heading.

Ross Edwards (composer) - Wikipedia

Back when I had a music shop (1990s) there were quite a few 20th Century composers who people came looking for, apart from the minimalists like Glass, Cage and Adams.

Stravinsky, Respighi, Kodaly, Bartok, Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Poulenc, Rachmaninov, Copland, Gershwin, Britten - all of them had at least some easily accessible works.

Saying that the earlier giants of composition, going back hundreds of years, are now irrelevant or "too hard, too long" is misguided. It would, if it becomes the victim of cancel culture, rob people of the finest, most accomplished works.

The key word is culture. In Europe there has been a long tradition of maintaining orchestras, teaching new generations to play instruments to the highest standards, and having concerts as often as possible.

If there is a decline in the popularity of fine music, be it orchestral, chamber, or opera, it's a failure of education and cultural nurture, not a failure of the products.

Measuring a "decline" purely by current sales versus those of another earlier period has some relevance but isn't automatically proof of a general decline.

Living in Sydney's outer suburbs certainly doesn't help one to attend live performances either. The difficulty and time taken to travel too and from venues in the city area make it much less attractive than it might be for someone to pop into town on a ferry that takes just 15-25 minutes and requires no parking arrangements.

So, at home we are working through some operas on DVD, playing on a 60" screen and with audio via the SuBsonic Fusion Three speakers system.

The LP and CD collections are substantial, and gaps can be filled with access to streaming services.

I still believe that getting into some good introductory works pays dividends. There's only so many times you can replay the pop faves. There's so much excellent "classical" music that you'll never run out. I'll attach a couple of CD covers that might point the way to some very lively, not too serious, in some cases demo quality music, and three of the best string quartets for easy enjoyment.

 

biches-poulenc.jpg

fiesta in hifi.jpg

kodaly-bartok.jpg

3 String Qt.jpg

a-respighi.jpg

Edited by Spinnergeoff
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Saw this on the internet recently - a video showing a two years old boy reacting emotionally to his sister playing the Moonlight Sonata. That boy is now 6 and have started his own piano lessons. For some people it is just natural. 

 

 

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That was so touching. I felt all those unnamed swirling emotions the little bloke was  feeling. When the music bypasses your critical senses and spears straight to your soul, it’s both a blessing and a curse.

Bless his beautiful soul.

Billy

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